We should bow down to Alan Richardson a fighter who is in danger of being forgotten, writes Miles Templeton
ASK anyone who attends Ex-Boxers’ Association meetings in the North of England, and they will all tell you that Alan Richardson is one of the nicest men you could hope to meet. I first met Alan about 12 years ago when I used to go along to EBA meetings of the Leeds association. I was immediately struck by how modest the man is. The photograph of him on these pages shows a man with a real fighter’s face, cold eyes, a steely expression and the look of a hard man. In the ring Alan was all of this, but outside the ropes he is a quiet, dignified and popular man. He is another of those champions from the 1970s that is in danger of being forgotten and this is a shame.
In Boxing News’ recent series on the Top 50 UK contests, I ranked Alan’s war with Les Pickett at number 31. This wasn’t the only tough scrap that Alan took part in, and I particularly remember his dust-ups with Vernon Sollas and Evan Armstrong, both for the British featherweight title.
A product of Wakefield’s White Rose ABC, Alan made great waves as an amateur. He was beaten in the semi-finals of both the 1969 European Championships and the 1970 Commonwealth Games. He won the 1969 ABA featherweight championship, adding to his 1965 victory as a junior. He is related to Jimmy Kid Richardson, a veteran of 65 professional contests during the 1930s, and being born and raised in Fitzwilliam, located firmly within the Yorkshire coalfield, it was perhaps inevitable that he would start work as a mining engineer.
Alan was never a one-punch finisher, but the cumulative effects of the sheer number of the hard, accurate and fast punches that he threw often wore down his opponent. A good example of this being his 1973 victory over Billy Hardacre for the Central Area featherweight title in a contest fought at the Adelphi Hotel in Hardacre’s home-town, Liverpool. Billy had twice beaten the up-and-coming Richardson in tough fights, but by utilising an accurate left jab and maintaining a relentless pressure throughout the full ten rounds Alan picked up his first title in this, their third meeting.
The Board had made the match an eliminator for the British title and the following year Alan got his chance. Evan Armstrong, one of the best champions at this weight, came through after 11 rounds of a titanic struggle. Alan had a big lead after 10, but Evan turned it around with a big left hook. In true Richardson style, Alan walked from his dressing room after the bout to find Armstrong battered, weary, and stretched out across a couple of chairs, trying to recover from his ordeal. Alan told him: “If I had to lose, then I am glad I lost to such a great fighter and good sportsman as you”.
Evan told the press that the bout with Richardson was “the hardest fight I have ever had. Richardson is a man. Round about the ninth and 10th I was beginning to think he might be too strong for me. He just kept coming back at me. He’s got so much heart!”
Armstrong gave Richardson the Ladbroke Trophy, which he had been awarded along with the Lonsdale Belt after the contest, because he didn’t think that Alan should go away empty-handed. The two showed such wonderful respect for each other. Sadly, Evan is no longer with us but Alan continues to earn respect today – but perhaps not quite as much as he should.
Alan achieved his goal, winning the British title three years later, when he picked Vernon Sollas apart in eight rounds at Leeds Town Hall. After being beaten by Eddie Ndukwu for the vacant Commonwealth title in Lagos a few weeks afterwards, Alan made his first successful defence with that classic against Pickett.
Going for the third notch, Alan was beaten by Dave Needham. He didn’t win the belt outright, but he won just about everything else and he was a great fighter.